Dietary recommendations are a principal tenet of Ayurveda, the sophisticated healing science from India. Pronounced eye-yer-vay-duh, it is often called the mother of all healing modalities, as it is at least 5,000 years old.
Ayurveda is not a diet; rather, it is an approach to healing and a way of life that include dietary guidelines:
1. Eat fresh, organic produce whenever possible to limit your intake of toxic chemicals.
2. Eat whole/fresh vs. processed foods. Processing changes foods on cellular and chemical levels, resulting in a toxic effect on the body.
3. Eat mostly cooked vs. raw foods – except honey. Cooking is actually the first step in the digestive process. The breaking-down of foods for assimilation is actually begun in the cooking stage, making it much easier for the body to digest the food you eat. However, do not cook or bake with honey, which is destabilized by high heat, becoming highly toxic.
4. Avoid or greatly limit your intake of fermented foods, including vinegar, soy sauce, alcohol and hard cheeses. Unless you have very strong digestion, fermentation in the digestive track, at its worst, can create toxins and, at the least, will generate too much heat in the body.
There is a non-fermented liquid soy product called Bragg Liquid Aminos, found in most health-food stores, which is a great substitute for soy sauce and tamari.
5. Incorporate the healing power of spices in your cooking.
( 1 ) Cook any dish for four people – vegetables, soups, dal and other lentils, and beans – with one clove of minced garlic and ½ teaspoon of freshly ground ginger to stimulate agni, the inner digestive fire, which is necessary for digestion.
( 2 ) Change this recipe to ½ -1 teaspoon of fresh ginger, no garlic, if you suffer from acid reflux.
( 3 ) Add one pinch of asafetida per cup of dried beans, dried dal or other lentils to eliminate flatulence. Asafetida is a spice carried by Whole Foods and other natural grocers as well as by Asian grocers under the Indian name hing.
( 4 ) Sauté any vegetable dish in a little oil or ghee, or clarified butter, with ground cumin, coriander, turmeric and a splash of Bragg Liquid Aminos for a quick and yummy gravy flavor that aids digestion.
( 5 ) Use ½ teaspoon of turmeric, an anti-bacterial agent, in any soup, stew, bean or vegetable side dish to keep it fresh for up to 2 days. Turmeric also helps the body detoxify.
6. Experiment with spelt or non-gluten flours instead of wheat. Most people have better energy levels and fewer allergy symptoms when they drop wheat out of their diets and use lighter grains for baking and cooking.
7. Avoid frozen and microwaved foods, as well as “junk” and fast foods. Freezing and microwaving kills the prana, or life force, which is found in fresh foods, and “dead” food turns into toxins in the colon. The same is true of food that has been cooked and is sitting in the refrigerator for more than 24-48 hours; it also loses its prana. Many “junk” and fast foods are filled with chemical additives that are highly toxic.
8. Avoid combining fruit with other types of food. Because fruit is metabolized at a different rate of speed than grains, vegetables, dairy and meat, combining fruit with other foods leads to fermentation in the digestive track. It is best to save fruit for morning, late afternoon or evening snacks, unless you enjoy an all-fruit breakfast.
9. Avoid cold drinks. The average temperature within the stomach is 110 degrees. Pouring cold beverages into that warm environment is shocking to the body and weakens the power of digestive enzymes. Room temperature beverages are fine in the spring and summer. Warm or hot beverages are even better in the fall and winter months.
10. Create a sacred space for eating. Eat your food in a quiet and uncluttered environment so that you can experience the food’s essence and truly enjoy you food. Turn off the television. Gentle music and sweet conversation are fine, and silence is also wonderful. Save reprimanding the kids and discussing your partner issues for a later time! Bless your food by offering your gratitude for this abundance to the form of the divine that you worship.